Of Rocks and Flowers: Dealing with the Abuse of Children
by Virginia Satir
Family therapy pioneer Virginia Satir helps a family struggling with separation and abuse in this dynamic, moving session.

Family therapy can be challenging to navigate for a host of clinical reasons, and therapists can quickly find themselves feeling ungrounded and at a loss for effective interventions—especially when child abuse is present. Watch renowned therapist Virginia Satir conduct an innovative, forward-moving session with a distraught family of four, and you’ll understand why this 20th-century psychotherapist is considered one of the pioneers of family therapy.

Bob and Betty are married and expecting a baby, in addition to raising Aaron and Robbie, Bob’s two young sons from a previous marriage. Betty, seeing the abuse Aaron and Robbie have recently endured (and are beginning to perpetrate themselves), fears for her unborn child and questions Bob’s commitment to preventing further abuse. The family comes to Satir on the brink of breakup, wanting to stay connected but unclear about how to do so.

Through a creative combination of gentle, hands-on interventions and directive, facilitated discussion, Satir establishes a safe yet firm environment that supports the family’s motivation to change, while also addressing the issues of trust, choice, and resistance that can arise during the therapeutic process. You’ll witness her skill at assessment, generating a warm, authentic rapport while getting the details of the boys’ abuse. You’ll be amazed by the depth of her guided breakout session with the adults, as she affirms their desire for stability while helping cement each others' “bottom line” as a foundation for building trust. Again and again, you’ll be moved by the presence, patience, and interactive use of healing touch Satir exhibits throughout this session as well as the entire Virginia Satir Series.

This video is a must for therapists looking to learn more about family systems, child abuse assessment, creative interventions, goal-oriented facilitation, and the empathic, nurturing stance that allows for safety and transformation.

What therapists are saying…

"Satir’s mastery is in full blossom in this video. Her integrative approach is made explicit, and you’ll see her fearlessness in how she uses touch for connecting and instructing. Watching this video will deepen any therapist commitment to grow competence for working with families."

-- Jean McLendon, LCSW, Past President, The Virginia Satir Global Network
In Depth
You’ll be impressed with how deeply Virginia Satir engages Bob, Betty, Aaron, and Robbie in this session, structured to include the family all together as well as in separate dyads. Bob, a recovering alcoholic, holds custody of Aaron (age 4) and Robbie (age 3), his sons from a previous marriage to a woman who abuses them even as he fights for a restraining order. Bob’s current wife, Betty, would rather leave the family than risk abuse to her coming child with Bob. Satir reflects on the “undercurrent of fear” the family is enduring, and proceeds with a session designed to uncover each family member’s concerns, align their goals, and get them relating in a safe, honest way.

Satir guides Bob and Betty in communicating their “bottom line” needs in deep connection, supports the whole family in regulating physical touch, and assists Bob in setting clear limits with his sons. Nurturing, directive, experiential, and engaged, Satir exhibits a charismatic style that’s simultaneously unique and accessible.

If you’ve ever wanted to watch this leading figure in action but have resisted the high price tag for her videos, you’ll be excited to discover her work now, as part of our accessibly priced Virginia Satir Series.

By watching this video, you will:
  • Learn the principles of Satir’s approach to family assessment
  • Understand how a systems therapist can conduct guided sessions with parts of the family unit as well as the whole
  • Identify creative interventions to support healthy physical touch

Length of video: 1:02:18

English subtitles available

Individual ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-372-3

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-373-1

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-373-7

Virginia Satir is one of the key figures in the development of family therapy. She believed that a healthy family life involved an open and reciprocal sharing of affection, feelings, and love. Satir made enormous contributions to family therapy in her clinical practice and training. She began treating families in 1951 and established a training program for psychiatric residents at the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute in 1955.

Satir served as the director of training at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto from 1959-66 and at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur beginning in 1966. In addition, Satir gave lectures and led workshops in experiential family therapy across the country. She was well-known for describing family roles, such as "the rescuer" or "the placator," that function to constrain relationships and interactions in families. She is also known for creating the Virginia Satir Change Process Model, a psychological model developed through clinical studies.

Satir's genuine warmth and caring was evident in her natural inclination to incorporate feelings and compassion in the therapeutic relationship. She believed that caring and acceptance were key elements in helping people face their fears and open up their hearts to others. Above all other therapists, Satir's was the most powerful voice to wholeheartedly support the importance of love and nurturance as being the most important healing aspects of therapy. Unfortunately, Satir's beliefs went against the more scientific approach to family therapy accepted at that time, and she shifted her efforts away from the field to travel and lecture. Satir died in 1988 after suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Her most well-known books are Conjoint Family Therapy, 1964, Peoplemaking, 1972, and The New Peoplemaking, 1988.

See all Virginia Satir videos.
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